Like a petulant bully forced to apologize by his parents, Donald Trump belatedly, with feet dragging, singled out white supremacists for the appalling acts of racist terrorism and murder in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. Trump’s initial tightrope walk of false equivalence was calculated to please neither establishment Republicans nor Democrats, but his true base:
And pleased they were. Trump’s later appeasement of critics within his own party and the press was PR, an action meant to stymie further rebukes after the intended damage had been done.
If you’ve ever been the recipient of a non-apology apology, you know not to accept what he said as sincere. Trump has without fail dithered when presented the initial opportunity to distance himself from white supremacy in his political career, from “I don’t know who David Duke is” to present day. It’s only when the outcry becomes deafening that that the president pretends to distance himself from nazis (and if you’re considering citing Godwin’s law, Mike Godwin calls them nazis too).
For some, Charlottesville gave what communities of color and the greater antifascist movement have been saying all along palpability. Perhaps it took the murder of a white woman to shock the “decent” elements of white America – there’s a long and tiresome history of an assault on white femininity being the bridge too far. Or perhaps seeing Trump’s clear discomfort with calling out nazis made the label of “fascist” fit more snugly on his person.
For others, it drew the focus away from the palace intrigue, the daily embarrassments, the ongoing Mueller investigation and yes, the absurdist comedy to what is happening in our country. White supremacists were emboldened by the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump’s election and every public signal in our culture that implicitly if not explicitly endorses their worldview. If the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that they’re getting bolder. As Jamelle Bouie noted, this is a white power movement showing its strength.
It seems reasonable to counter that the death toll from racially-motivated murders is relatively small. As Jeff Sessions might say if he was sure he wasn’t being recorded, so what? The number of gun-related homicides in Chicago in a month effortlessly eclipses the Hitler Squad’s body count in a year. While true, the numbers aren’t the point. Racial terrorism is. The racially-motivated murders committed by white supremacists are political murders. Their intent is instill fear in non-white and visibly Other Americans, to send the message that they’re not safe, that there’s no equal place for them in society. It’s a chilling message that if they or their white, straight or cis allies stand up for them, they will be dealt with like traitors.
Charlottesville wasn’t the end. It’s the latest signpost on a road that leads to a very dark place.
(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Seven)
A damning mountain of evidence points to the ineluctable conclusion that up to five million votes were fraudulently cast in the last general election. This evidence is being held in an unusual location: the addled minds of 45 and his intensely loyal, reality-denying followers.
But these phantasmagorical vote thieves have made some rethink the regular and judicious application of the democratic process. A new Washington Post/Qualtrics poll shows 52% of self-identified Republicans
would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed this.
The hand is tipped, the fascistic future partially unfurled. There are people who want to shut you up and keep you down. No amount of well-intentioned reach-across-the-aisle gestures will alter their comfort with denying you the right to vote against the man – and the abhorant ideas swirling around him – they cherish.
(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Four)
One supposes it was too much to ask that Sebastian Gorka leave the White House as promised, but according to The Daily Beast Trump and Bannon “personally intervened” to ensure he continues his Loony Tunes nonsense for the foreseeable future.
At least his contentious interview with Anderson Cooper has earned him the sobriquet “the Hungarian Don Rickles“.
Does terrible human being Sebastian Gorka’s pending departure indicate a larger move away from the Bannonite school of thought towards the philosophy of Jared Kushner? Or does Gorka need a break from the hot mess of the Trump administration so he can spend more time with his goatee?
(Year Zero/Day One Hundred And One)
Convincing a majority of any nation of the correctness of an argument is difficult. Tedious, even. Outside of one’s own fan club, there will be people who disagree on firm ideological grounds, some who hint they can swayed but never seem to change their minds, and those who stand in opposition for reasons related to personality or identity.
And if, say, one has MacGyvered together a political career using pocket change, bits of string, populism and bullying, lack of persuasive skills will exacerbate the difficultly and tediousness.
That must be why Diable Mandarine is wistful for terror attacks, which could potentially give a boost to fascist cohorts like France’s Marine Le Pen and assist him in maintaining his own power in a pinch.
Not only that, but he all but officially endorsed Marine Le Pen ahead of Sunday’s election. There’s a very real chance that she will be France’s next president. She’s run an ugly nationalist campaign while eliding the inconvenient “f” word that dogs her party. Her father Jean-Marie Le Pen led France’s National Front from its formation until 2011, and though the modern party would never openly call itself fascist, well…
The first obstacle to understanding the French fascist dynamic comes from how the FN has been characterized from the 1990s, but especially in the last six years. Many mainstream analysts assure that the FN has transitioned from neofascism to “populism” (or “national-populism”), moving from the far right to slightly right of center. Some even assert that it has never been truly fascist because the French political culture would be “immune” to fascism, as many French historians have been constantly (and absurdly) contending that there has never been such a thing as an authentic French fascism in the twentieth century.
However, the “National Front for French Unity” (which is its original name) was created in the early 1970s by the party Ordre nouveau, which was rooted in the history of French fascism, and the FN was imagined as a broad organization in which neofascists — renamed “nationalists” — could attract, maneuver, and lead all of the moderate nationalists of the traditional right.
But when one stops thinking of the political trajectory of the FN in terms of changing symbols and words, in order to think it in terms of a strategic project, Marine Le Pen’s break from her father represented no fundamental change in the party’s platform, but rather a new manifestation of the party’s longstanding strategy for gaining political support.
The FN’s bait and switch aligns it closely with classical fascist political strategy. In The Anatomy of Fascism, historian Robert Paxton argues that far-right movements treat ideas as essentially instrumental: their promises contradict each other, and their platforms abruptly and radically change to gain a wider following. For example, fascist parties sometimes reject modernity, industry, and capitalism in the name of more deeply rooted, traditional values. Just as often, however, they defend these ideals in the name of national transformation.
In case the mainstream media’s current flight-of-fancy narrative about the president’s turn toward conventional respectability was holding any sway, let’s remind ourselves: Donald Trump just endorsed a fascist. Donald Trump is a fascist. Donald Trump could be one dramatic terrorist attack on American soil away from making that blindingly obvious.
(Year Zero/Day Ninety-Two)